Attracting new talent to our sector remains a challenge. It is key we connect with partners to support hard to reach groups, in opportunities to gain employment for roles in our business. This supports our commitment to social responsibility, in addition to meeting our recruitment challenges.
DWP run a programme called Sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs), which connects individuals trying to enter the job market and local business with opportunities. SWAPs are an opportunity to learn new skills and get experience of working in a particular industry, for example care, construction, or warehouse work.
The programme is designed to help jobseekers, who are claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), to build confidence, improve job prospects and enhance CVs.
SWAP in Milton Keynes:
The Milton Keynes Council Neighbourhood Employment Project Manager approached Customer Success Manager in MK to collaborate with the DWP on a SWAP initiative. This was follow on activity from some previous engagement work, so they had identified good potential support from Mears.
The DWP set up a cohort of job seekers. The commitment required by Mears was to interview every person who passed the course. The course was 2 weeks, delivered by a third party. One week IT and one week Customer Service, achieving recognised certification. Employment skills were also incorporated. Near the end of the course, CSM (Customer Success Manager), Claire Foden held a meeting with the group to talk about Mears and give them some hints and tips for interviews.
Mears were given the opportunity to interview 5 people, from the completed SWAP programme.
At this point, there were vacancies across both Milton Keynes and Longhurst Call Centres, for call handlers, in addition to roles for Resident Liaison Officers.
What were the outcomes?
Positive outcome from the interviews, was to appoint 2 individuals from the SWAP programme, into call handler roles.
Brett has been a Longhurst Call Handler for 4 months. He has become a trusted and valuable member of the team. Prior to Mears he had been in and out of employment for five years. Brett has several challenges but has embraced his role at Mears.
The outcomes for these two members of the team are almost unmeasurable for both them and their families. They are gaining valuable skills and experience that will set them up for the future.
Some great impact statements from Brett and Scott, on how the opportunity has positively impacted:
Brett - "Since joining Mears I have been able to settle into a routine which is great for my condition. I have been identified as someone who can progress at Mears and am looking forward to this. Customer service is really important to me. It's been amazing so far."
Scott - "It is nice to be back in work after two years out of work. I am lucky to have a supportive Manager and great colleagues."